We were very fortunate to be able to stay with family in Bangalore. Although we are only in-laws of in-laws, they treated us like family, and made us feel extremely welcome.
There was definitely some culture shock… Bangalore is loud, dusty and chaotic, with traffic that makes Bangkok seem trivial to navigate. Although this is a major city, it is still very much ‘developing’ in both literal and metaphoric senses. Construction seemed to be happening everywhere, without much concern for city planning.
One of the first impressions I had was of laissez faire capitalism run amok. There are some very rich people here, alongside extreme poverty. Things we take for granted like garbage collection don’t happen. (In fact, one of the women we spoke with said some people are so poor that they will dump other people’s garbage on the street in order to resell the trash bag.)
Our flights yesterday were quite pleasant, and this morning we wake safely in Bangalore. Today will be mostly about getting our bearings and meeting our Indian relatives.
This was in an alley in Segovia, Spain from our trip last March
Well, they were probably six-year-old pirates, but nevertheless. On our cruise of the floating village on lake Tonle Sap, our boat was, in fact, boarded by two kids who wanted to sell us cold drinks. It was pretty amazing actually, they just pulled their boat alongside our (moving!) boat and jumped on board before we even really noticed they were there.
The bus ride from Bangkok to the border was easier and more pleasant than we expected. Contrary to the 6+ hours we were quoted, it only took about 4 hours to reach the border.
The border itself was another thing altogether. After passing the thoroughly pleasant Thai passport control folks, the Cambodian immigration process was a bit of an ordeal – tons of paperwork, many different lines, poor communication, not to mention intense heat and confusion. We were glad the guy from the bus was leading us through the process (though we certainly could’ve figured it out.)
From there, it was a two hour taxi ride to Siem Reap itself.
After some really unpleasant negotiating around finding a new hotel (see last post) we found an adequate (though bizarre, quirky, and in process of demolition) guest house.
Tomorrow we start at the temples.
Most of our Bangkok sightseeing so far has been around the Grand Palace – which was every bit as impressive as I remembered from my visit here ten years ago. We both thoroughly enjoyed the palace, though the heat was a bit oppressive.
We also found a tailor to make me a custom-made suit, which is somewhere between exciting and terrifying (because even though it’s very cheap for a custom tailor, it is still a lot of money spent on something without a good idea of what the result will be)
The only bad part was that we seem to have gotten somewhat ripped off by the TAT (official tourist travel agency, government licensed or whatever) – the guest house they booked for us in cambodia was not as advertised (no AC, dirty, etc) and they charged us about five times its real price. We didn’t end up staying there and will contest the charges.
We spent the afternoon today at Tulum, which is a really beautiful site kinda near Cancun. It reminded me a bit of the Roman Forum, or what I imagine Ostia Antiqa might be like (I didn’t make it to the latter.) There were beautiful ruins, a gorgeous beach, and iguanas everywhere (I love iguanas)
We got up early today and headed straight for the ruins. WOW – it was pretty much everything I had hoped for – pyramids, columns, carvings, falling-down buildings… It felt really old and somewhat sacred, despite the throngs of tourists who began to show up after we had been there an hour or so.
There were also tons of craft booths, I bought way too much stuff.
My itty-bitty laptop isn’t really up to the job of running Aperture, so I only have a couple photos ready to post, I will add more when I get home.